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China beef deal gives U.S. edge over competitors

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Despite being more stringent in some areas, requirements for importing beef to China finalized this week will give the U.S. beef industry an edge over competitors, according to the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF).

“It is now clearer exactly what we’re going to have to do to export to this market,” said Thad Lively, USMEF senior vice president for trade access. “In some respects, the requirements go beyond what we must do to have access to a lot of markets around the world, and as a consequence, I think it’s probably realistic to think, in the beginning anyway, that our exports are going to start out pretty slow.”

We expect that business and that volume to build up over time, he added.

And despite the limiting factors, Lively said there is a lot to like in the agreement, including eligibility for chilled beef.

“A number of areas of the agreement frankly turned out a lot better than any of us thought they would, even just several months ago, and that’s something that we all owe the USDA and the U.S. government more broadly a big thank you for.”

Lively also emphasized the deal provides access to the Chinese market under better terms than any other country that imports to China.

“We’re going to have access for far more of the carcass than any of our competitors. That’s a big win for all of us.”

Having access for chilled beef is critically important, he explained, because the customers the U.S. will be targeting, especially early on, are going to be high-end foodservice and retail customers in China. “They’re going to be looking for chilled beef.”

Additionally, he said U.S. beef is going to be positioned at the very top of the Chinese market as the highest quality product available. “And to the extent that we are able to ship chilled, that always helps in terms of establishing our reputation for quality and for having the freshest imported beef in the market.”


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